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Yarmouth SHYFT responds to concerns about rowdy youth

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YARMOUTH - The executive director of SHYFT, Adam Dolliver, says he takes complaints about the behaviour of SHYFT youths living across the street from Trinity Place very seriously.

Seniors in the Trinity Place apartment building say they are subject to shouting, swearing, fighting and theft and that they observe frequent visits to SHYFT from the RCMP. Click here for story.

Dolliver says they work with an extremely diverse group of youth at SHYFT.

“Some are coming to SHYFT from situations of abuse, neglect, and/or violence,” he said.

“When children are raised in an environment of abuse and violence, they learn coping skills that are not always socially acceptable.”

Staff works to help youth learn new, more appropriate coping skills, but Dolliver says this takes time and effort. 

Behaviours are predominately caused by complications encountered during normal childhood development, and have persisted for years, he says. 

Youth are assisted on an individual basis at SHYFT “meeting them where they are, and working to move them forward.”

Dolliver says they have experienced many great successes in transitioning youth into independent living, and becoming happy, healthy, productive members of the community.  

He adds that not all youth who have come to SHYFT have had similar success.  In those cases, SHYFT measures success in different ways.  “Sometimes, success isn’t complete independence, but rather an improvement on their former life. 

Time and patience are essential in SHYFT’s line of work, he said, and sometimes that means the toleration of a “great deal of challenging behaviours.”

“Having worked at SHYFT for the past 3.5 years, I am often reminded of the quote: ‘Kids who need the most love will ask for it in the most unloving ways,’” said Dolliver.

Regarding RCMP involvement at the SHYFT house, he says it’s no secret that from time to time SHYFT works collaboratively with the RCMP for many reasons. 

Sometimes it is to assist youth; sometimes it’s to provide guidance and legal advice. Sometimes officers attend meetings on site; sometimes they obtain statements from youth and check up on those on probation.

He says in rare cases, RCMP are called to remove a youth from the property. 

“There could be any number of reasons for RCMP involvement at SHYFT, and their presence certainly does not always denote a youth engaging in criminal activity,” he said. “Making blanket assumptions about this is not only erroneous; it also creates a stereotype that youth at SHYFT are criminals.  I would note that everyone, including those who have had involvement with the law, are entitled to fair and equitable treatment, and to equal access to services in our community.”

Dolliver says while he is sensitive to the concerns of the Trinity Place residents, he says staff are present at SHYFT 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. 

“We closely monitor all youth on SHYFT property, and we make every effort to ensure the safety of the youth and staff at SHYFT, as well as our neighbours. 

“Though our youth sometimes use loud and vulgar language, as teenagers often do, they do not present any unreasonable risk to each other, the staff, or anyone in the environs of SHYFT.”

He added, “I can appreciate that it is not always easy to be our neighbour.  I invite any residents of the Trinity Place complex to meet with me directly (either at SHYFT or at the complex), to address any continuing apprehensions they may have.”

More about SHYFT

SHYFT Youth Services provides housing and counselling support to at-risk and homeless youth in the tri-counties.

Since April 2014, SHYFT has provided residential and outreach services to over 300 individual youth in Yarmouth, Shelburne, and Digby Counties. 

SHYFT website

SHYFT Facebook Page

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